Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Came

The hottest recorded temperature in Iowa was 118 degrees Fahrenheit and the coldest was -47 degrees Fahrenheit which means Iowa has a temperature span of  165 degrees Fahrenheit. Food for thought.

We had an extremely cold November that I think was the third coldest on record and a little snow but not much. Then December rolled around and it was pretty much snow less and right around seasonal averages for temperatures which in this neck of the woods means highs above freezing and lows below freezing. Then January rolls around and it was the warmest one I have ever seen. Officially I don't know how it stands but my records go back over 60 years. Finally February came and on its first day, we got 11 inches of what you see in these pictures.

Here is a picture of my weather station on the deck though I don't refer to the thermometer anymore with smart phone technology. My rain gauge, sans glass tube, is buried in the snow. I used to just turn my glass tubes upside down for the season but during a move, my old glass tube that was nearly 20 years old broke. I searched around high and low for nice rain gauges that weren't all plastic and finally found an outfit in Vermont that made a brass and glass version similar to what I had. Unfortunately, the glass is so thin that the first year I left it outside turned upside down, it still broke. I got a replacement one and keep it safely tucked away in my sock drawer awaiting spring.

The first half of the 11 inches of snow we received was the wettest snow I've ever seen. I could pick up a handful and squeeze water out of it and it stuck to every thing. My snowblower, a heavy duty industrial kind, that can typically throw snow 20 feet away, could only puke up cylindrical blocks of packed slush if I took anything more than about a six inch swath at a time. Even then it was lucky to throw the slush five feet to the side. Another phenomenon that I witnessed for the first time was that it was TOO wet to make a snowman with the kids. The weight and density of the snow kept large chunks sluffing off the ball we were trying to roll. We ended up just packing it by hand in place. The second half of the snow came in dry powder form and with wind. In my neck of the woods which are wooded river valleys, this doesn't mean too much but when you get into the open, it means whiteout conditions and huge snow drifts that can literally be taller than a house crossing the highways at random points. With roads, businesses and schools closed, it is no wonder there was a record turnout for watching the Superbowl.

The road out in front of our house follows a ridgeline going from east to west. Off towards our east property line, another road intersects the east-west road and plunges off down the ridge line to the south and this is what you see in the above picture. During the winter months, people coming up the ridge in the dark shine their headlights towards our house and so we planted fruit trees there to break that up and provide fruit for our family. They look cold and lonely in their cages which I erected to keep the marauding deer away. At night they often set off our motion actuated security lights and I can see them bedded down in our yard chewing their cud.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that puts our little dusting in a relationship.

Ed said...

Vince - It's not very common here. I can probably count the number of times we got a foot of snow (here in SE Iowa) in my lifetime on my fingers. Perhaps a couple more but not many.

Bone said...

The snow has completely missed us here this year (as it is wont to do in Alabama). Saw a handful of flurries a couple of times.

What kind of fruit trees did you plant? I'd like to get a couple going myself.

warren said...

That looks absolutely miserable...sorry for your bad luck. We have had surprisingly little snow this year which is unusual...but to my mind, wonderful!

Ed said...

Bone - We planted a sour cherry, a baking apple and a eating apple. I have planted some in the past but with the exception of the ones I planted on my parents farm, I've not been around to pick any fruits. Perhaps this house will be my lucky charm.

Warren - I don't mind the snow if it is warmer temperatures. The cold is what gets to me these days more than anything.